The Average Costs and Contract Terms When Working with a Call Center: What to Expect

Samir Sampat

Outsourcing to a third-party call center can be a great investment for companies today. Everyone just starting their research wants to know what to expect in terms of contracts and costs. The caveat, of course, is that each company will have its own costs and contracts to consider, so it’s important to take the time to do a little research. 

According to research, an in-house call center setup could cost more than $70,000 between hiring costs, office space and equipment, and all the training and construction that would need to take place. Naturally, that causes a lot of companies to consider outsourcing to a third-party provider. 

Contract terms

Also known as the Service Level Agreement (SLA), a contract with a call center will outline a variety of the terms of the agreement, including pricing rates and structures, length of the contract, explicit descriptions of the services provided by the call center for the client (your company), and so forth. There’s not a “typical” or “average” contract when it comes to working with a call center. We can, however, explain what is usually covered. 

Contracts will include details for things like: 

  • Terms of the engagement
  • Services provided
  • Implementation of services
  • Delegation and check-ins
  • Activities of the call center
  • Excusable delays
  • Cooperation
  • Standard of care
  • Limitation of liability
  • Call center fees, including reimbursement, taxes, etc. 
  • Indemnification
  • Insurance
  • Severability
  • Applicable laws

This is usually a lot of legal speak, but there are important things on this list that you’ll need to be a part of to ensure that you get the contract and services that you need from your call center provider, no matter who you decide to work with. 

Pricing models 

There are several pricing models and strategies used by outsourced call centers. Some offer monthly plans (flat-rate), while others offer per-call rates or per-minute rates for calls. Ultimately, there’s not one that’s inherently “better” as long as you’re getting an affordable price for the rate that you are paying. 

Per-call pricing

The average cost per call for call centers ranges from $2.50 to $5.50, depending on the exact type of calls being made, as well as what after-call work (ACW) is required. You may find providers that charge more or less than this, but you should find that most are within this range. If you are using a per-call rate, keep this in mind. 

Per-minute pricing

The other option that companies choose is per-minute pricing, which currently ranges from $1.50 to $1.75 per minute, but can vary depending on the exact services chosen and the type of calls being made. If you get per-minute pricing, make sure that it’s affordable. Today, most businesses have call center demands that make per-minute pricing restrictive, so some companies have switched to flat rates or monthly plans to make things easier and more affordable. 

Flat-rate plans

Depending on the services that you need and the call center that you choose to work with, you’ll probably spend between $250 and $1,000 a month on flat-rate call center services. Companies that only need a few services and don’t have a lot of calls to make (or take) will pay less, while those who need a more dynamic plan will end up paying more. Some flat-rate plans are priced quarterly or annually, too, which can provide an additional discount on the costs. 

Benefits of outsourcing your call center 

As with most business processes, outsourcing your communication needs could be just what you need to help you streamline and save money. When you do find an affordable contract with terms that you agree with, you’ll see a myriad of perks coming your way. For starters, you’ll find local and global vendors who can provide an array of solutions for dedicated purposes or even general call center needs. That will help you find the best for your company, no matter what that entails. 

Call centers can become expensive if you implement them in your business as an in-house team. However, you can save as much as 50-80% of the costs of hiring staff when you choose to outsource to a call center. And don’t forget the savings from not having equipment, facilities, etc. 

Of course, when you choose to outsource to virtual receptionists instead, you’ll also enjoy increased efficiency, along with flexibility and scalability in your staffing and call center coverage. With outsourced virtual receptionists, you can easily increase or decrease staff for seasonal needs, overflow coverage, or even 24/7 answering services so you never miss a single lead. 

Virtual receptionists tend to have a unique range of expertise and skills. They understand how to handle professional phone calls and present themselves on behalf of your company to take care of whatever the caller needs. Both inbound and outbound agents have experience in multiple industries and verticals and there will be less training and hiring required than if you were to take things in-house. 

While call centers can be a useful resource, their capabilities may be limited when compared to all that you can get from virtual receptionist services. In either case, remember to read the terms of the contract and only agree to a solution that works for you and your budget. 

Speaking of working for you, consider enlisting the help of Smith.ai for your communications and admin needs

If you don’t want to enlist the help of a full-scale call center or a limited operation that may only handle inbound or outbound business, you might be in the market for a team of virtual receptionists like the dedicated agents at Smith.ai. From our 24/7 answering service to our assistance with lead intake, appointment scheduling, and live website chat, we’ve got you covered. 

Our team of experts can even help with outreach campaigns and outbound sales calls, giving you all the support that you need and a custom strategy to ensure that we cover it all. To learn more, schedule a consultation or reach out to hello@smith.ai and ask why virtual receptionists are a better solution for your business. 

Samir Sampat

Samir Sampat is a Marketing and Events Associate with Smith.ai. He has experience working with businesses of all sizes focusing on marketing, communications, and business development.

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